WESTBURY United avoided relegation after an impressive victory over high-flying Chard Town.
United won the game 2-1 but it could have been so different as in the closing seconds a corner for Chard led to a goal-mouth scramble and just as the ball was fired into the Westbury net the referee blew his whistle for full-time.
The goal did not stand, and United kept hold of the precious three points to lift themselves out of the bottom two. The result means they jumped above Devizes Town and Shrewton United in the table to finish the season in 19th place on 32 points.
It was enough to secure their Toolstation Western League status for another year, avoiding the drop into the Wiltshire Premier League in the process.
Departing manager Sam Gooding said, “It’s massive for the club. The way finance is at local football it almost certainly would be the end of Western League football at Meadow Lane.
“The new management coming in probably wouldn’t be so keen at that level and the whole attitude in the club would change as the coverage received is not the same as the Western League.
“Expenses in the Wiltshire League are about the same as the Western League but without the publicity. Ticket prices would have to come down which would give us less income.
“Next season I expect the club to push on as the new manager has a lot of contacts from a higher level and that will complement the lads already here.
Full Match Report
With United leading 2-1 deep in injury time, a corner kick led to a goalmouth scramble and the referee blew his final whistle just as a visiting player shot the ball which went into the net!
Westbury fully deserved their 1-0 half time lead, although the visitors had come close early on when Sam Clark’s clever chip from the edge of the box hit the crossbar! Lewis Porter also did well during the half to save two well struck Andy Martin free kicks, but apart from that United were the better team.
Wayne Wheeler and Clint Hartley made rare appearances in attack and showed their worth with a strong, pacy performance that regularly had Chard on the back foot. Visiting keeper Scott Wells-Burr did well to deny both at various times while Kane Scott headed wide after an accurate Hartley corner.
Impressive midfielder Gary Tugwell received the ball from Kieron Kiff and scored the opener on 38 with a superb dipping half volley from wide out on the right that eluded Wells-Burr and nestled in the far corner of the net!
Wells-Burr made several fine saves from Hartley and Mark Young early in the 2nd half but was beaten again on 57 when Wheeler played in Hartley who rounded the keeper and scored with ease.
Chard’s top scorer Sam Clark gave his team hope on 74 when he pounced to score from close range at an Andy Martin corner and make it 2-1. Town pushed men forward but were met by determined home team defending, particularly by David Whyte when Clark look set to equalise.
Visiting forward Taoufik Ben–Salem was sent off near the end after committing a series of fouls that incurred two yellow cards before the dramatic finalé that secured the points for Westbury!
*STAR MAN – Gary Tugwell. TEAM – Lewis Porter, David Whyte, Luke Stanley, Gary Tugwell, Paul Beavers, Kane Scott, Kieron Kiff, Nathan Hallett, Clint Hartley, Wayne Wheeler, Mark Young. SUBS – Matt Mead, Dan Letchford (used) Phil Hampson, Matt Friendship, Andy Ladd (unused)